Hydrogen powering students

Hydrogen is powering a group of Palmerston North students pitching to attend a world grand prix event in California.

The Gas Hub, powered by Powerco, has provided the funds for Freyberg High School to purchase a hydrogen remote control car kit for the students to build and test.

Thanks to the sponsorship, students from the school now have the opportunity to be the first in Aotearoa New Zealand to participate in a pilot Hydrogen Grand Prix (H2GP) educational programme ahead of it being launched nationwide in the future.

“We’re incredibly grateful to The Gas Hub, powered by Powerco, for providing the funds to purchase the hydrogen car kit, which helps our students spark an interest in STEM subjects,” says Andre Jacobs, Freyberg High School Head of Department, Creative Industries.

“So our students can receive the full benefit of this opportunity, we’re now looking for local businesses to support our school team to attend the Horizon Hydrogen Grand Prix Finals in Anaheim, California, from September 9 to 14. It’s a large cost for us – we need to fundraise between $30,000 to $35,000 to get the team, which includes seven students and two teachers, to the event.

The school is seeking donations from $1,000, which will secure a donating business logo space on the team’s t-shirts, as well as other benefits. 

The New Zealand Hydrogen Council is one of the first to come onboard to support the travel fundraising effort.

Powerco General Manager Gas Don Elers says the company is excited to provide the vehicle so that Freyberg students can learn valuable science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in a real-world setting.

“We believe it’s important to support STEM initiatives in our communities, to inspire young people to become scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians in the future. The H2GP programme challenges our future innovators to problem solve, design and manufacture in a creative way to help tackle tomorrow’s energy challenges.

“The gas and electricity industries will need this expertise in the coming years, and this is our way of helping nurture young minds into following STEM and perhaps eventually making a career out of it,” Don Elers says.

The H2GP programme challenges our future innovators to problem solve, design and manufacture in a creative way, in order to help tackle tomorrow’s energy challenges.

What is the Hydrogen Grand Prix Series?

The H2GP is an educational programme, focusing on climate change, renewable energy and using hydrogen as an alternative fuel. The aim is to build, modify and improve a remote-control car that is powered by hydrogen and participate in an endurance race.  This programme is run successfully in hundreds of schools across four continents, and Freyberg School has been chosen to be the pilot school for bringing this initiative to Aotearoa, New Zealand. The H2GP programme challenges our future innovators to problem solve, design and manufacture in a creative way, in order to help tackle tomorrow’s energy challenges. As the first team from Aotearoa to participate in the programme, Freyberg School has been given a wild card entry to attend the H2GP World Final, which will see the 40 best student-led teams from around the world compete their cars against each other in Anaheim, California in September.


Powerco is The Gas Hub's parent business and is New Zealand’s second largest electricity and gas distribution utility with over 900,000 customers (across 457,000 connections) connected to its networks. Powerco’s gas pipeline networks are in Taranaki, Hutt Valley, Porirua, Wellington, Horowhenua, Manawatū and Hawke’s Bay. Its electricity networks are in Western Bay of Plenty, Thames, Coromandel, Eastern and Southern Waikato, Taranaki, Whanganui, Rangitīkei, Manawatū and the Wairarapa. 

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